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DSA Students Walk into the World of Virtual Reality

Through the power of partnerships, Durham School of the Arts students are getting an amazing opportunity to learn about – and create – a virtual reality walk-through model.

Working with GrowingChange, an organization working to flip an abandoned prison into a sustainable farm, Duke University’s Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership and Durham-based Lucid Dream, a digital creative agency specializing in high-end, virtual-reality tools, the students will create a VR walk-through model of the prison. GrowingChange will be able to use that model as a marketing tool to raise money for the prison conversion project. The farm will provide life skills and job training for young people on the edge of the criminal justice system, veterans and the community.  

Students in Robert Bourgeois’ Career and Technical Education Advanced Studies class are on their fourth year of studying game design and interactivity. They have already created a 2D design of the prison site, but will travel to the site on Oct. 31 to take pictures and get a better feel for the location.

“This experience has been great for the students,” said Bourgeois. “It has taught them about the sometimes painfully slow steps it takes to get a project like this going.  It has also exposed them to working as a team.  And it has shown them how they can take the skills they have learned over the past three years in gaming and entertainment and use them in a different industry and a project for the community.”

Through a $52,000 grant from State Farm’s Youth Advisory Board, Duke University’s Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership will purchase the computers and equipment that is required to work in virtual reality.  The grant will also pay for Lucid Dream to provide coaches and teach the students how to use the VR equipment.